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I Loved Lucy: My Friendship with Lucille Ball Hardcover – October 12, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
While Kathleen Brady's outstanding Lucille: The Life of Lucille Ball (1994) is still the benchmark for biographies on the red-headed comedienne who ruled the TV airwaves from 1951 through 1974, this slighter memoir, focusing on the last decade of her life, is still a treat for fans who continue to love Lucy. Tannen, a distant relative through marriage, befriended Ball (1911-1989) during the last decade of her life. By this time, Ball was spending most days playing backgammon and confining professional appearances mostly to yearly Bob Hope specials. Whereas Jim Brochu's Lucy in the Afternoon (1990) covered the same ground, Brochu pulled memories from Ball as they toiled over the backgammon table, creating an oral history of her professional and private life. Tannen's portrait of Ball is less reflective on the past, instead concentrating on her frustration at being denied one of the great joys of her life her work because of bad health and poor decisions. Gary Morton is presented as an absentee husband (when not golfing, he's in his study on the phone with friends). His bad career advice leads Ball into two late-in-life disasters: a TV movie (1985's Stone Pillow), which ruined her health, and the poorly conceived TV series Life with Lucy (1986), which, when canceled, convinced her that she no longer had a career or fans who wanted to see her. Tannen believes that this led Lucy to lose enthusiasm for life. This affectionate and intimate but by no means rose-colored portrait presents Ball as a demanding taskmaster at a loss during her twilight years. Fans won't learn much new here, but it's still a worthwhile visit. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Lucille Ball will always be remembered as Lucy Ricardo, the wacky redhead who was forever getting herself into hilarious situations. The queen of comedy was a very different person in her private life. Writer/director Tannen, who is a distant cousin of Gary Morton, Lucy's second husband, became one of the comedienne's closest friends before her death. This book is not a biography but a memoir of those years. Tannen spent many hours playing backgammon with Lucy, going on ski trips, accompanying her to awards ceremonies, and traveling anywhere else Lucy wanted to go. Writing with sensitivity and passion, Tannen shows us the real Lucy, who could be lovable but also very controlling, reclusive, and demanding. The only fault here is Tannen's flexibility with chronology; it would have been easier to follow had he kept the time line more focused. Otherwise, this is a great book about one of the great Hollywood legends. Lucy fans will not be disappointed. Recommended for larger libraries. Rosalind Dayen, Broward Cty. South Regional Lib., Pembroke Pines, FL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Tannen knows that after Desi's death, Lucy died as well. Desi is Lucy's one love. Lucy's relationship with her second husband, Tannen makes clear, was distant. Her children and grandkids, too, are minor players in her restless life. Lucy admits freely to Tannen that she's still in love with Desi but couldn't bear the public humiliation of his constant peccadilloes. "He was a genius," she says of Desi. "He was also a drunk and a womanizer."
The great "Lucy" had passed away.
"She really disintegrated so quickly," said Tannen. "Her tombstone should have read 'From Desi's death on Dec. 2, 1986, to her own death on April 26, 1989' because that was the life of her death. On her death certificate it says 'ruptured aorta,' but I believe Lucy died because she didn't want to live anymore."
We learn firsthand how Lucy drove, cooked, swore, and lived. Tannen's word pictures place us front and center during the last decade of Lucy's life. We find out finally why she did her ill-fated series 'Life With Lucy.' We learn how she felt about her friends, her fame, and her life without work.
Bravo to Lee Tannen for sharing this story with us. Here at last is Lucy a living breathing human being - not Lucy Ricardo/Carmichael/Carter - and we love her all the more for being so human.
First of all, Tannen's obsession with Lucy goes beyond normalcy. This is truly evident, not only in the way he has compared almost every situation he describes with Lucy to a particular "I Love Lucy" episode but the fact that he makes no secret of his dislike for Gary Morton is beyond reproach and disturbingly creepy. It is almost as if he's jealous of Gary and wants Lucy all to himself which is what happens most of the time in his anecdotes, which become repetetive and trite after a few chapters.
I Love Lucy as much as anyone but to idolize someone to the point of obsession the way Tannen does with Lucy is too "far out" for my taste.
I agree with the reviewer who wrote that Lucie Arnaz only endorsed this book because Tannen wrote what she wanted to hear....that Desi Arnaz was the love of Lucy's life (no big secret)and that he never got the credit he deserved for making Lucy the television institution she became (again, no big secret).
The book itself in context, grammar, etc. is very poorly written. With all the money Tannen claims to have he could have had this book at least edited properly.
When Lucy wrote him off for a year after he threw a temper tantrum (which he later regretted) Lucy should have kept her distance completely. This book, alas, adds nothing new to the Lucy Legend. As a matter of fact, it detracts greatly from it.